Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | February 8, 2010

Day 14: When God Seems Distant

This chapter of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life deals with those times when God seems distant, when we do not feel his presence, when we think he has abandoned us and he is not answering our prayers. St. John of the Cross famously called it the Dark Night of the Soul.

Warren says: “The deepest level of worship is praising God in spite of pain, thanking God during a trial, trusting him when tempted, surrendering while suffering, and loving him when he seems distant.”
He quotes David, “Lord, why are you standing aloof and far away? Why do you hide when I need you most? Why have you forsaken me? Why do you remain so distant? Why do you ignore my cries for help? Why have you abandoned me?”

Warren encourages us to pour out our heart to God with full emotion in such times, just as Job did. And to trust God to keep his promises during times of spiritual dryness.

These dryspells are part of the maturation process of our friendship with God, and of our own evolution and development in spirituality.

The image that came to my mind when reading this passage was of a little boy learning to ride a bike. The father stands and runs behind us, steadying the bike. We feel his hand keeping us from falling over. And then the hand lets go and we are pedaling on our own. We sense the absence of our father’s hand. There comes a time in our spiritual growth, several times, when God has to let us pedal the bike on our own, when he has to give us the keys to the car and let us drive.

We cannot know when God will lend a hand or not. I have many anecdotal stories when I’ve prayed to God and he has answered my prayers. I have many anecdotal stories of when I have prayed to God and he has not answered my prayers. This is where surrender comes.

In taoism, we know one thing for sure, life is change, yin and yang and all the variations thereof. There will be ups and downs. Our life is not to create only ups and avoid all the downs, our life is to learn to negotiate the ups and the downs, and to do so with character, with right moral action, with dignity and with respect.

I have been “partnering” with Christ lately, acting as if Christ were standing right next to me, personally involved in every aspect of my life. He is reminding me right now I have to stop blogging, pack up, and get to my next destination. We both enjoyed watching the superbowl last night–yes, he is a fan of the Saints!

All of the above imagery may seem hokey and ridiculous to some, but it contains a wisdom and a truth beyond our understanding.

I don’t know if Christ will wave his hand this week over our store and help us to comp to last year’s sales figures, but I do know that if I live as if He were next to me, as if I were infused with the holy spirit, if I live correctly, it will go well with me. Jesus expects me to do my part. I expect him to do his.

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